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An Improper Derailment: Chapter 22

Where Mary gets treated like some package and pouts

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Catch up with Chapter 21…

Start the series from the beginning…

Mary pounded into Marshall’s back with weak fists and kicked.

“Hold still.” Marshall smacked the side of her hip close to her backside.

Mary gasped, “The impropriety of it all!”

“Stop wiggling, or you’re gonna fall.”

He turned and strode back to Kim’s side. Where he lifted her up until Hanska gasped her and hauled her the rest of the way onto the sauran’s back.

“You’re gonna stay up there. You want to pout you, pout up there. I’m not gonna have you behave like this while we are out in the wild. You don’t know how to hunt. You barely know how to snare a rabbit. You still haven’t succeeded in starting a fire. You barely know how to forage for what won’t kill you. And yes, your grandfather hired me to make sure you’ve made it from Chicago to San Francisco safely. And I’m going to do my job.”

At some point in time, the steady rocking motion of Kim’s forward gate lulled Mary to sleep. When she woke it was sunset and she was no longer on the back of Kim. She was curled up next to a fire. The smell of roasting rabbit filled her senses.

She looked around and saw neither man. The familiar pervasive sent of Kim let her know that the beast was nearby. Constantly guarding her. She was safe from wild predators in the presence of the tric.

Her heart hurt with her situation. She didn’t like knowing that her family saw her as nothing more than a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder. Knowing that her grandfather didn’t actually care for her wellbeing as much as he cared for how much money she could bring in. That’s all he had ever been concerned with.

He never got over the fact that he was too old and too late to have made his fortune in the California gold rush. But he was determined to make his fortune. Unfortunately, he lost a fortune just as frequently with his gambling problems and his poor judgment of speculation schemes.

Janie had gotten so lucky with Charles. He was handsome. He was as like-minded as Janie in her focus on things that were of little importance in the greater scheme of the world. They shared an interest in things of fashion and society. He wasn’t concerned with problems in the world or cattle drives or surviving on nothing out on the plains.

And yet, here Mary was stuck with, she had to admit they were honorable men, having done nothing but ensure her safety. There was not one single untoward glance, and they did not tend toward improper conversation in her presence. Marshall Hunt had proven by action alone he was more of a gentleman than Pythagoras Peterson would ever be.

She ground her fist into her eyes, and she sniffed away her tears. Crying never solved anything and feeling sorry for herself was going to help. And yet, she felt sorry for herself, sorry for the girl who was terrified of saurans because they were loud and smelly. And she felt sorry because no one had ever bothered to introduce her to an animal larger than a horse.

There was an entire population of creatures out in the world that she knew nothing about, in a world she knew nothing about. She felt sorry for the girl who thought horrible things of native men. When Mr. Hanska had been nothing but kind and protective.

She cast her gaze about, she was alone. A haunch of rabbit was set on a stone next to the fire, keeping the meat warm. Her mouth watered at the prospect of the fire-roasted meal. Marshall was right. She would never survive out here on her own.

What perils will Mary face next on her journey to regaining the railway? Find out in the next installment… 

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian

Andra Dill Interview, Paranormal Unbound Author

Set the shifter romance free, the readers said… So they did.
Dragons, Bears, Wolves, Vampires, Witches, and more. Delve into the magical tales in this paranormal romance and urban fantasy collection for zero pennies.
What more could you ask for? Snag your happily ever after today!


Andra Dill, one of the authors featured in Paranormal Unbound,  tells us about her contribution to this anthology: Smudged Magic

Hexed by a black-magic witch and transformed into a cat, Roseanne needs her big sister, Neva, to come through with a counter-spell. Fast.

Neva’s green-magic creates amazing protective wards, but it can’t break a curse.

As Neva delves into her treasure trove of grimoires and family archives, the black-witch is determined to breach her protective wards and capture Roseanne. It’s a battle against time and powerful magic, but Neva will do anything for her family.


Q: What book/movie was your “gateway drug” into paranormal romance? 

The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice. I won’t swear that was the first paranormal book I ever read but it is the one that made a lasting impression on me. Lestat’s personality, his sexuality, his charisma, and his irreverence hooked me.

Q: Is your story in Paranormal Unbound a stand-alone or does it introduce readers to other characters/ worlds of yours? 

Smudged Magic is a stand-alone.

Q: What other Shifters Unleashed anthologies have you participated in/ what stories? 

Shifters For A Cause—I wrote Luck of the Draw, a steamy story about cougar shifter Paige and the persistent jaguar shifter, Logan.

Q: What up-coming anthologies can we find more from you? Please tell us about those stories.
A Measure of Happiness—is a stand-alone historical fantasy book (part of The Casket Girl Chronicles) that takes place in 1728 Louisiana Territory. Mariette became a vampire the night of her mother’s murder. Alone and without her maker to guide her, everything she knows about her new reality has been learned through trial and error. She leaves France behind, seeking a new life with her trapper husband in the wilds of Louisiana. There are problems (of course) and twists, like accusations of witchcraft and dark rumors.

Overindulgence is in the Eternal Love Affair anthology. A steamy romance with a healthy serving of adventure, this story stars a sexy vampire and the hired killer who stumbles into his territory.

I’m currently writing a witch and vampire paranormal romance that will appear in the anthology A Dance of Blood and Magic.

Q: When you write do you visually base your characters off actors/famous people? Please give some examples.

No, my characters are average people put into unusual circumstances.

Q: Why should we read short stories? 

Let me share with you why I enjoy reading them. Short stories allow me to drop immediately into a new slice of reality without a huge time investment. In forty-five minutes to a couple of hours I can immerse myself in a gripping story. It’s like a little vacation for my imagination. If the collection includes a favorite author, it’s a chance to delve into a side character (or main character) and get deeper into the overall series world. Or discover an entirely different side to that author’s writing style (or genre). Other times I have the pleasure of discovering a new-to-me author.

Q: Random party question: what’s your favorite pizza?

Canadian bacon and green olive.


“I’m worried I won’t be able to break the hex, Sagar. To transmogrify a person into an animal that takes black magic.” Rapping her knuckles on the glass, she looked over her shoulder. Sagar sat straddling the chaise; elbows braced on his splayed knees. Black tufts of hair stuck out wildly on his head. He looked ridiculous. Neva smiled, slowly stalking across the room towards him.

Grasping her wrist, he hauled her down to sit in front of him. He ran his fingers through her long chestnut hair, raking out the snarls. Neva tipped her head back and sighed. Tension leached out of her as he divided the tresses into sections, tugging gently, then began fashioning a braid.

“So, you think she was hexed over that jewelry she inherited from your crazy great-uncle?”

“Pieter wasn’t crazy. He was eccentric.” Neva squirmed back, wedging her curvy ass between the vee of his thighs.

“He was too crazy and a hoarder to boot, your Abuelita said so, and it isn’t healthy to disagree with that old gal.”

The elder matriarch wielded the dark arts expertly in the protection of her loved ones.
“Smart man.” Neva patted his leg.

“I’ll never forget her hexing me with fleas back when we were dating.”

“Lita did not hex you with fleas.”

“So you say.” Sagar pulled her back to recline against him. His soothing, familiar scent, musk, and summer sunshine surrounded her, and she melted against him.

When not daydreaming about plot lines and characters Andra practices yoga, reads voraciously, and drinks too much coffee. She loves road trips and going off on wild tangents. Andra writes in multiple genres—including but not limited to—urban fantasy, steamy romance, paranormal romance, and occasionally horror.

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J.A. Belfield Interview, Paranormal Unbound Author

Set the shifter romance free, the readers said… So they did.
Dragons, Bears, Wolves, Vampires, Witches, and more. Delve into the magical tales in this paranormal romance and urban fantasy collection for zero pennies.
What more could you ask for? Snag your happily ever after today!


J.A. Bellfield, one of the authors featured in Paranormal Unbound,  tells us about her contribution to this anthology: Called

Jem Stonehouse dreams of running free. She closes her eyes on her mundane life as a suburban housewife and is whisked to a realm where she races through trees under the silvery glow of moonlight. Jem shrugs it off as overactive imagination, until a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger leaves her wondering if there’s more to it than that.

Sean Holloway’s inner wolf recognizes Jem the second he catches her scent. With a single glance, he knows her to be the woman that comes to him in his dreams. While the two have never met-in this lifetime, at least-the bond he feels for her is intimate and unbreakable.

But when their dream encounters become reality, a series of events is set in motion. Apart, the two are safe. Together, they awaken a centuries-old rivalry that could cost them their lives.

With history repeating itself, Sean must teach Jem who and what she truly is. Their survival depends on her embracing her heritage and fighting alongside him.

Can Jem stand firm in the call of destiny, or are her instincts buried far too deep?


Q: What book/movie was your “gateway drug” into paranormal romance?

Bitten by Kelley Armstrong

Q: Is your story in Paranormal Unbound a stand alone or does it introduce readers to other characters/ worlds of yours?

It can be read as a standalone, but it does lead into further stories for the Holloway Pack

Q: IF it is a lead into another world please tell us about that world/those books.

The first two books are told from a female POV and focus around her romance with one of the pack members, but from book three onwards, they change to showcase different pack members (male POV) and their stories and struggles. Depending on the character, some are more romance focused, others more urban fantasy/action.

Q: What other Shifters Unleashed anthologies have you participated in/ what stories?

I’ll be among the awesome authors releasing in a few months’ time with Shifters Ever After. 

Q: What up-coming anthologies can we find more from you? Please tell us about those stories.

You can find a prequel to the Holloway Pack, Beginnings, in the upcoming Shifters Ever After

Q: When you write do you visually base your characters off actors/famous people? Please give some examples.

I don’t actually. I rarely get solid visuals of my characters, more an essence of who they are as a person. Physically, I just have small snippets in my mind, like I might know their hair colour and length, their eye colour, height, etc, and then I’m left to kind of fill in the blanks, which can make it hard for finding the right images to portray them. I’m more likely to base character relationships on those I’ve experienced or witnessed.

Q: Why should we read short stories?

Because why limit yourself? And just think how many more stories you could be experiencing within a year!

Q: Random party question: what’s your favorite pizza?

Ham and pineapple. Pineapple DOES belong on pizza.

Best known for her Holloway Pack Stories and The Therapist, J.A. Belfield lives in Solihull, England, with her family, a spoiled dog, and a cat who likes to vomit in unfortunate places.
Once upon a time, she was a little girl with a vivid imagination. Not much has changed in the last forty years.

J.A. Belfield writes paranormal romance, with a second love for urban fantasy. And now she writes saucy romance, too. Because she can. 😉.

WIP-it -Wed Witches of Wet Waterfalls

“A haunted shack, that’s really a magic portal to the magic realm where some warlock has the answers,” I poked at the dirt with the shovel some more. I hadn’t put it back, even though I really didn’t need to use it.

“I don’t know about shack, but by magical portal, you mean shimmering lights and a floating disco globe in the middle of the meadow?” Yuki sounded a little off.

I looked up at her, and a reflection from something bounced across her face. Her arm was outstretched as she pointed to the middle of the meadow.

My gaze followed the direction of her point. Oh. Oh fuck.

“Well, I’d say that might be a magical portal,” Roosevelt said. He crossed his arms and nodded. “Yep, definitely magic.”

Approximately two yards off the ground, where Gage had been standing, a flashing, throbbing, glowing blob appeared. Sparks like diamonds flashed and pastel-colored clouds roiled. It emanated drops of rainbowed lights on the ground around it and reflected light in small patches everywhere. It looked like a sparkling discotheque nebula in the air. Definitely a party, more than a storm.

“What is that?” Gage asked.

“I don’t know,” I whispered.

Behind me, Rosie whimpered. Yuki murmured soft soothing sounds to her.

The magic was between us and the wolves. Max stood his ground and growled at it. Oz seemed to not be bothered by it at all as he rolled around in a patch of wildflowers snapping at bugs.

Gage took a step forward.

“Don’t get near it,” I said. I stood up and I stepped past Gage.

“What part about not getting near that thing, are you doing right now?” Roosevelt asked as I continued to walk toward the thing.

“The part where I’m a witch, and you’re not.” My confidence grew as I got closer. The energy it cast out felt familiar.

“It’s the same energy source I use,” I called back.

As I got closer I could hear it crackle and fizz. I realized the birds and insects had stopped making noise at some point earlier. Maybe they knew this was coming? It didn’t move from where it hung in space.

I didn’t get any closer before I started to circle around. I sent out feelers to detect if this was being generated from any direction.

“Hey,” I said as I reached Max. “It’s worrisome isn’t it?” I asked the growling wolf. He was ready for a fight. But he couldn’t fight energy, and that’s all it was in front of us.

“I don’t think it’s anything you need to worry about. I mean look at Oz, he couldn’t care less.”

I walked over to my boyfriend, the wolf, completely ignoring the situation. He was snapping at bees, and other flying bugs. I could hear birds again, but only over by the rocks. I looked back to the situation, and it was gone. Everyone was focused on something in the middle of the field, but I couldn’t see what they were looking at, at all.

I crossed the space back to Max, and suddenly there it was. And no bird song.

I contemplated calling out to Oz. He would want to see this, and he’d be pissed if I just let him be oblivious to the situation.

As I opened my mouth to say something, a blur of gray fur rushed passed me. Max snapped at his legs but missed.

Oz ran forward and leaped. He sailed right into the middle of the disco storm of magic.

Lulu M. Sylvian Interview, Paranormal Unbound Author

Set the shifter romance free, the readers said… So they did.
Dragons, Bears, Wolves, Vampires, Witches, and more. Delve into the magical tales in this paranormal romance and urban fantasy collection for zero pennies.
What more could you ask for? Snag your happily ever after today!


Lulu M Sylvian, one of the authors featured in Paranormal Unbound,  tells us about her contribution to this anthology: Fallen

She meets the perfect hero for her plot, but is he the perfect hero for her?

Demi is supposed to be enjoying a writer’s retreat. Only everything is going wrong. Everything, except meeting the local hottie fireman. Moments after picking her up from the pavement, she plots an entire fantasy surrounding the handsome Eli.

After telling him about a couple of bear cubs, Eli mysteriously disappears on her. Demi plots the demise of the character she has based on him after she realizes that maybe he wasn’t as taken with her as she thought. Only when Eli returns does he reveal all to her, including a rather surprising plot twist of a secret.


Q: What book/movie was your “gateway drug” into paranormal romance?

I read the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicle books back in the day, but I don’t think they were my true gateway into paranormal romance. That honor goes to a friend who handed me Sherrilyn Kenyon’s, Fantasy Lover.

Q: Is your story in Paranormal Unbound a stand-alone or does it introduce readers to other characters/ worlds of yours?

Fallen is a related story to my paranormal romantic suspense series Legatum. This story introduces some new ideas that the shifters from the previous books did not know about. The characters are all new.

Q: IF it is a lead into another world please tell us about that world/those books.

The Palatine family can trace their history back to the time of the founding of Rome.
Descendants of Rhea Silvia, the first wolf shifter, and the war god Mars, this modern family of shifters is used to protecting their secrets. Now science has caught up with their myth. DNA evidence that can identify shifters is appearing on ancestry tests. And if that isn’t causing them enough troubles, an old long thought dead vampire has mysteriously resurrected and is causing problems.
Legatum is currently at the sixth book in the series. It starts with Protective.

Q: What other Shifters Unleashed anthologies have you participated in/ what stories?

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in several Shifters Unleashed anthologies.
I have a menage vampire story called Mist Chances that appears in Immortal Legacies.
Seal with a Kiss, which features a selkie hero is in Shifters Do It Better.
Loaded for Bear appears in Alpha Shifters Furever

Q: What up-coming anthologies can we find more from you? Please tell us about those stories.

I have a mini-series I’m really excited about coming up. Berserker Boys, the first one Bear is appearing in Cocky Alpha Shifters, with the following stories Wolf and Boar in Shifters Furever After and Shift Happens.

Q: When you write do you visually base your characters off actors/famous people? Please give some examples.

All the time. It helps me to better describe the physical aspects of them, not just what they look like, but how they move, how their face shows expression.

Q: Why should we read short stories?

Short stories give you a sense of completion with a smaller time commitment.

Q: What’s coming next for your readers?

This year I’m in a handful of anthologies, plus in the fall I will be releasing Witches of Wet Waterfalls, the second mini-series in the Wet Waterfalls paranormal reverse harem world.


There was a sudden warble of a siren. Demi closed her eyes with embarrassment. She tripped, she didn’t need an ambulance. The siren was off seconds later and the rumble of a truck engine idled in the street nearby.
“You okay there?”
Too many emotions battled in Demi’s mind. Unable to properly focus around the pain and humility, she breathed deeply before seeing if her eyes would work and cracked them open. The face that greeted her was breathtaking. She was mesmerized the most by his sage green eyes.
His brows were lifted as he looked at her questioningly.
Demi managed to nod. Truth was, she wasn’t okay. She had embarrassed herself epically by stubbing her toe, and now she was having heart palpitations because the rescue hero they had to call in was distractingly handsome. No, not handsome, he was beautiful with darker skin and paler eyes, and bone structure that artists had been trying to capture for centuries.
His fingers caressed the inside of her wrist, and the breath she had struggled to reclaim left her again. It wasn’t fair that a dashing smile and good cheekbones could inject butterflies straight into her bloodstream.
“What’s your name? Can you tell me what happened?” He was professional, didn’t he realize how much worse he was making everything? “Matty said an elderly lady fell and broke her hip. Your pulse is elevated.”
“Matty has greatly over-exaggerated the situation,” she finally managed to say. And of course, her pulse was elevated, he was touching her.



Bio-engineered to be the only redhead in a generation of blonds, Lulu feels that “aliens” may actually be the best answer for a lifetime of being asked, “Where did you get that red hair from?”
Lulu cannot ride a horse, hula hoop, or play roller derby, but she can make pictures. Encouraged to make those pictures out of words Lulu began writing just to see what would happen, and words happened, so many words. She writes sexy hot paranormal and ridiculous contemporary romances. She embraces the crazy that comes with that one little genetic mutation, and attempts to live up to the reputation of being a redhead.

Cocky Alpha Shifters is now available

CAS happy book birthday

Cocky Alpha Shifters: A Shapeshifter Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy Anthology is coming April 12th!

Bad boys are good…cocky alphas are even better…




Dragons, Bears, Werewolves, Demons, Witches, and more, we have what you need between the pages of this anthology.

Fall in love with the paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales of these USA Today bestselling, award-winning authors, and new-to-you talent as they deliver those sexy-as-sin shifters you hate to love in this limited edition collection.

You know you want to…fall in lust with a Cocky Alpha Shifter today!

This is the only place you can read Berserker Boys: Bear!

available exclusively In Cocky Alpha Shifters available for preorder now

Cocky Alpha Shifters: Meet Sassa Daniels, author of Taming the Tiger

Cocky Alpha Shifters: A Shapeshifter Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy Anthology
is coming April 12th!

Bad boys are good…cocky alphas are even better…


 Meet Sassa Daniels, author of
Taming the Tiger,
and read more about Taming the Tiger


When my boss sends me to Siberia to write a story about bad boy billionaire Alexei Vasiliev’s crusade to help endangered tigers, the last thing I expect is to end up in his bed. Once I’m there, I never want to leave but, with both of us harboring secrets, can our blossoming relationship ever work?


The moment Eleanor Hughes appears at my home, looking like a frumpy schoolteacher, I know I have to have her. Though she doesn’t seem my type, I’m drawn to her in a way I’ve never experienced before. But, behind my public persona, lies a dark secret. I come from a long line of tiger shifters. I’ve never trusted a woman enough to share my life with her. But, perhaps, Eleanor just might be the one.

Eleanor is sent, ostensibly to write a story about bad boy billionaire Alexei’s tiger conservation project. However, she’s realty there to get the scoop on why his mother, a famous socialite, suddenly left Moscow. When Eleanor and Alexei meet, he feels an instant attraction to her. She rebuffs him at first but, soon, his charms start to work on her. After spending a day together, they finally give in to their mutual desire. But then Alexei catches Eleanor snooping around the house where his mother is staying and gets mad. When his secret is revealed, Eleanor has to decide whether she likes him enough to take a chance on this cocky tiger shifter.


As soon as I’m ready, I creep out of the room, and sneak downstairs. Pavel’s warning against snooping chimes in my ears, but I ignore it. By now, he and everyone else in the house, is sure to be asleep. The front doors are locked, when I try them, and I’ve no idea how else to get out of the house. I walk along one corridor, after another, looking for an alternative exit. This place really is huge. I might not be able to find my way back to my room.

As I peer into what seems to be a smaller, more intimate dining room than the one where I ate with Alexei, a voice from behind makes me jump out of my skin. “Going somewhere, kotonyok?”

I spin around and my jaw drops. Alexei is standing behind me, stark naked. He’s intimidating in clothes, but like this, he’s downright scary. His body is more muscular than I realized. For a billionaire playboy investment guru, he’s pretty bulky. In the half-light of the corridor, it doesn’t look as if he’s got any ink, but there’s an interesting scar just above his hip bone. Now that my eyes have reached his hips, I can’t prevent them from glancing a little lower. I almost whistle in appreciation at what I find between his legs. The man is big all over. Realizing that I’m staring, I shake my head to clear away the libidinous thoughts that are floating through it.

“I…eh…I was looking for the kitchen.” I wave a hand in front of my throat. “Thirsty. I…What are you doing up?”

“I went for a run.”

“A run? In the nude?” His response is an indolent shrug. “In Siberia?”

“I was born here. I’m used to it.”

About Sassa Daniels

Sassa Daniels is a USA Today Bestselling Author of steamy romance. Writing across a range of genres including paranormal, sci-fi and contemporary romance, she loves to create strong, dominant heroes and the feisty heroines who’ll challenge them at every turn. Born and raised in the Scottish Highlands, she still lives there with her family. She recently quit the world of academia to focus on writing.

Find Sassa online here:



FB Author Page



Q: What book/movie was your “gateway drug” into paranormal romance?

All the old Hammer Horror movies got me hooked on vampire stories, but the one that got me into romance was Bran Stoker’s Dracula. I hated that he didn’t get the girl in the end.

Q: Which do you prefer, and why? Vampires, shifters, witches, or ghosts?

I love shifters. I feel like they can be really dominant and a little bit asshole-ish and get away with it. That said I do love vampires, witches and ghosts, too.

Q: What was your favorite part about writing this story for Cocky Alpha Shifters?

I liked that I went in a different direction than I usually do. Most of my books are quite heavy on spanking. This story was lighter. There was more banter between the main characters.

Q: If you could interview your main character from this story, what would you ask them, and how do you think they would answer?

When you were a child, did you pull little girls’ hair in the playground?

Alexei (smirking). Yes, I did, and they loved it.

If you could change one thing about Alexei, what would it be?

Eleanor – Not a thing, he’s perfect as he is (waits until he’s out of earshot) – actually, I’d make him a bit more humble. The man is insufferably sure of himself.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about short stories as a reader?

I like that you can read them in one sitting and get a glimpse into another world for a little while. I also love that they can introduce you to writers you’ve never come across before.

Q: What was your preferred music/sound track for this story (assuming you have one).

I don’t have preferred music or a soundtrack for the story but, if Alexei had a theme tune, it would be Sexy and I Know it by LMFAO

Q: What’s coming next for your readers?

Well, I’ll have a short story in another Shifters Unleashed Anthology, Shift Happens, coming out later in the year. I’m also working on completing my Claimed Mates series of wolf-shifter stories.

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 21

Where we learn exactly how Mary’s grandfather has ruined her life.
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Catch up with Chapter 20…

Start the series from the beginning…

“When my sister, my dearest Janie, got married. And her husband took her from me and returned to his family’s bosom in Chicago, I thought I would perish. My best friend, my confidant.” Mary sniffled.

“It took months of convincing my grandfather that I would be better off in my sister’s company, instead of Languishing alone in my despair, and dreary San Francisco home. So he ordered a Pullman car, hired a maid and companion for me, and took me himself to Chicago. Once he knew that I was safe and secure with my Sister, he returned to this home.

“I didn’t hear from him for almost a full year. I thought, I thought he has left me knowing that I was capable of securing my own husband and my own fortune, my own future, and I had done so. I had the attention of Pythagoras Peterson, a cousin to the Chicago porter family, one of the richest families in America.

“I was certain in my confidence that Pythagoras was going to make an offer for my hand. He had reservations at the Palmer House. But no, that morning my grandfather sent a telegram saying that he has found a husband for me.” Mary took in a shaky breath in the middle of her dramatic retelling of the events of that fateful morning.

“I am sure that he found me some old friend of his with money. As all my grandfather has ever been interested is in money. Has he but inquired as to my situation, he would have been well pleased to have the attention of Pythagoras Peterson. He wanted me to call him Py!” She let out a small wail of desperation, mourning her past situation.

Casting her gaze about, a sauran on one side of her, trampled grasses on the other. She’d lost count of how many days she had been in the same dress. She didn’t have any means of changing her clothes. She had no idea where her things were, or what would happen to them.

A sob escaped her. “No, I’m sorry. I’ll be fine. I will survive. I will. I will show my grandfather that he knows nothing.”

There was silence. Kim let a low mournful groan, complaining.

“Even Kim agrees with me. It’s a terrible situation that I must endure.”

“Endure?” Marshall asked, he barely suppressed a wry chuckle.

“Yes, Marshall, endure. I am enduring the situation. I have been thrown into the company of…”

Mary glanced up and saw Hanska perched on top of Kim and swallowed her words. She knew what she was about to say. And those words were from her past. And she knew that they were no longer appropriate. They never had been appropriate. She felt shame at ever having thought that way about the native man.

“I’m in the company of two men. This is not proper. I’ve been kicked off of my train. And what was my grandfather thinking hiring you?”

She stormed back around to the other side of Kim and stopped in front of Marshall with her hands on her hips.

“How did he even hire you? What kind of a man are you that you can transport people from here to there like they’re nothing more than a package to be delivered?”

Marshall smirked down at her.

Mary’s palms itched to reach up and smack that smirk from his face. He was laughing at her. She was pouring out her soul and her pain. And he had the gall to step around her and continue walking alongside the sauran.

Mary stopped. Her feet stayed in place. She crossed her arms turned and watch the little company as they continue to on their track across the prairie. She didn’t even know where they were going anymore. All she knew was they had to get to the train. Weren’t there trains in Kansas City? Why weren’t they going in the same direction of the cows–cattle?

She refused to move. Yet, nobody noticed. Nobody paid her any attention. She was pitching a fit. And nobody was giving her the dignity of paying her any attention. Didn’t they know they were supposed to stop and apologize to her? Apologize for everything even if they had nothing to do with any of it. Neither man had any control over what her grandfather had done.

Neither man had any say in the way Pythagoras had behaved after she had to reject him because her grandfather had secured a proposal. Neither of them had anything to do with the beginnings of her situation. Yet they had everything to do with what was going on now. They showed no, remorse no empathy. It didn’t bother them in the least that she was a respectable young lady and she was thrown into the company of two rather rough, undignified men.

Didn’t they see what this could do to her reputation? Didn’t they care?

Perched atop the sauran, Hanska turned to look at her. “Are your feet tired? Do you need to ride? You’re going to fall too far behind if you don’t start walking.”

She stomped her foot. Uncrossed and recrossed her arms and stayed put.

“What do you think you do? I’m not going anywhere with the two of you anymore. You can just leave me out here to the wild animals and the bugs in the sun. I will simply perish and no one will care. Because clearly, no one has ever cared.”

Marshall sighed again and stomped to the few yards back to her. Looked at her and asked, “You’re not gonna walk?”

“No,” Mary turned her nose up at him.

“Fine. If you’re going to stand still like a package. I’m going to treat you like a package.”

He leaned over, grabbed Mary by her midsection, and stood up with her slung over his shoulder as if she weighed no more than a sack of potatoes.

What perils will Mary face next on her journey to regaining the railway? Find out in the next installment… 

©2022 Lulu M Sylvian